Flu warnings for winter

Catch it, kill it, bin, it is the message this winter as people are reminded how to protect themselves from cold, flu, and other common infections.

Seasonal flu is responsible for the deaths of around 8,000 people a year, many of them elderly.

Vulnerable people may be eligible for a vaccination to protect them against the illness, including those aged 65 and over, those with chronic respiratory diseases including asthma, chronic heart disease and chronic kidney.

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Chris Sharp from Cambridgeshire Community Services NHS Trust said: “Cold and flu germs and other common infections such as norovirus can live on some surfaces for hours, which means they can be easily transmitted via hands – but just a few simple steps can help prevent the germs from spreading.

“Always cover your nose and mouth with a tissue when you cough or sneeze, put the tissue in the bin – don’t save it to reuse - and wash your hands with water and soap as quickly as possible.

“A rule of thumb is that if your hands are visibly dirty, wash with water and soap or use baby wipes, where hand washing facilities are unavailable. Otherwise, use hand sanitiser to ensure your hands are as clean as possible.

“Following these simple steps makes a huge difference in the fight against many infections including common colds and the more serious flu virus. It’s such an easy thing to do which will make sure you and your family stay safe and well this winter.”

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Anyone who is eligible for the seasonal flu jab should contact their GP surgery.

Norovirus, sometimes known as winter vomiting virus, causes sickness and diarrhoea and is very easily spread. Outbreaks of norovirus can cause major disruption to schools, nursing homes and hospitals and the advice is to not visit hospitals until 48 hours after symptoms have passed.

The most important step in preventing norovirus is regular handwashing with soap and water.

For more information on colds and flu, visit http://www.nhs.uk/LiveWell/coldsandflu

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